By Will Graves
AP sports journalist
PITTSBURGH – Tuukka Rask blocked 25 shots and the Boston Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Tuesday evening to streamline the playoff race in the highly competitive East Division.
David Krejci gave the Bruins the lead with his seventh goal of the season towards the end of the second period. Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall scored the third goal when Boston ended a two-game losing streak.
Jeff Carter spoiled Rask’s 52nd career shutout bid with his 11th of the season – and the third since joining the Penguins at close of trade – with 2:21 times left, but it wasn’t enough. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves for Pittsburgh two days after knocking out the Bruins.
It was a tight, physical competition that had the look and feel of a playoff game.
The next time the teams meet it could very well be.
Pittsburgh and Boston are in a close race with Washington and the New York Islanders for the four available playoff spots in the East Division, with the New York Rangers still not quite out of the running with just over two weeks in the regular season.
The Penguins could have achieved a 15th playoff spot in a row with a Rangers win and a defeat against Buffalo. That celebration will have to wait after the Boston have held the NHL’s strongest attack at bay to claim their fifth win in eight encounters with Pittsburgh.
The Penguins came into play in April with an average of 4.00 goals. They left after being pushed around by the Bruins. Boston did not hesitate to contact all over the ice, and Pittsburgh found little space to work deeply.
Krejci finally broke a goalless tie with 1:50 to go in the second period when he took a feed from Charlie McAvoy, broke the Pittsburgh zone and Jarry tore a handsome backhand to put the Bruins in the lead.
Marchand, who has long been an issue for the Penguins, doubled the lead with his 26th goal 9:11 in the third period. Hall, whose arrival at the close of trading triggered a turnaround that got the Bruins out of a midseason funk, clinched his fifth of the season and fourth with the Boston a little over three minutes later to seal it off.
Penguins Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange returned the booth for the first time this season. The 73-year-old Lange, known for his eccentric shouts like “scratch my back with a hacksaw” and “buy Sam a drink and give his dog one too,” added himself after Josh Getzoff and his wife had a son, Gunnar. , had greeted on Mondays.
The game marked the start of Lange’s 46th season with the team. The appearance is a cameo, at least for the time being. Getzoff is expected to return to the play-by-play role on Thursday. Getzoff took over this season when Lange announced in January that he was taking a break during the pandemic.
Bruins: Start a two-game set with Buffalo when the Sabers visit Boston on Thursday. The Bruins have won five out of six encounters with Buffalo this season.
Penguins: Kick off a pivotal two-game series in Washington on Thursday. Pittsburgh leads the season streak 4-2.